This is an absolutely true story
The Christmas of 1996 was the first in many years that spoke to me. Willie bought so many gifts; every friend of Devo had something. The children, and adults alike would come into the house and be immediately transported to a Kinkaid Christmas Cottage. The holidays were filled with friends and family. Friends came in from the city, most 40 or more miles away. Family came further. It was a fine tribute to our place in their lives. It was the first year Devo did not go to either my family or Hawaii to her father and his.
My life was finally complete. I no longer had to sit in bars, dressed like a sequined train wreck, conversing with transvestites pretending to be lesbians, so desperate for companionship that I would just drink until he/she was hot. Love is the one human activity of any importance in which laughter and pleasure dominate, if ever so slightly, over misery and pain.
The following year was filled with a hubbub of activity. We traveled a lot. Trips to her family, New Orleans, Corpus Christi, Mexico, a lot of places I had never gone. These were places Willie wanted to go, places she wanted to see. Willie was never much interested in the things I wanted to do. She hated the beach, tubing down the river in New Braunfels, walking on the River Walk in San Antonio, going to Galveston. We did go to Corpus Christ, but she didn’t want to stay. And she had even lived there. I really wanted to do these things but my relationship and how it went meant more than visiting anywhere. I could live in that house and go to work forever. I would never ever say a word. The happiness was the most important thing and making an issue about such trivialities didn’t matter. Anyway, I ended up loving New Orleans and thought often of moving there. Thank goodness we didn’t, the worst devastation in this country, Hurricane Katrina almost destroyed the area completely.
Willie was uncomfortable at the beach and many of the places I found to be relaxing and fun. I was simply disappointed.
What is the worse of the two, discomfort or disappointment? You are at a party; one of you wants to go because they are “uncomfortable’. Of course you will be disappointed if you leave, but that’s fleeting. Discomfort turns into many things and can be a potential life changer. If you argue or fight over disappointment, that’s ridiculous. In the scheme of things, life can be so short, even when it is long¸ disappointment is still, just a state of mind.
Discomfort is a state of being and should one of you feel they are constantly being put into situations where they are having physical feelings of anxiety which causes worse health problems, you can rest assured, the relationship is doomed to fail. Disappointment, it is a daily event. If you have to leave a party because the person you are with is uncomfortable, think about it. Once you leave the party, barring any unnecessary arguments about your displeasure, where the memory really will only last less than 24 hours, the event is over and will be long forgotten. But I will bet each and every one of you can remember being places where you were uneasy and the longer the situation continued the worse it got. These are sometimes life changing events. What would you rather be disappointed or uncomfortable? 10 OUT OF 10 people will choose disappointment because discomfort is unpleasant to even think of. I wish I knew that when I opened my daughter’s reply to her application to Northwestern. A parent does not want to see their child disappointed, so I hid the letter. The rest of our life as mother and daughter has been uncomfortable because of it.
Then Jonbenet Ramsey was killed in a sickening method and I watched her parents that Christmas fall apart and the following year be submitted to the cruelty of press and police. We found out about children’s pageants and we were disgusted. My personal opinion is that her parents did not do this. It was apparent and anyone who is a mother knows the difference, the same being said of the father. To this day, and after watching Toddlers & Tiaras, I am convinced this had something to do the competitive spirit of these pageants. The amount of children enrolled in these pageants increased 10 fold. And Darlie’s trial was a fiasco in which people lied, transcripts were in excess of 10,000 errors with the transcriptionist being drunk daily and nurses were convinced they were right in not being so forthcoming with the truth.
In our little home the world continued outside, but things were not as they seemed inside.
Willie was addicted to the medical industry and brought me around to several doctors for the pain in my neck. She finally took me to a Dr. Monk, a wonderful pain doctor who did Willie’s bidding. Pretty soon I was on 10 mgs. of Clonazepam, 700 of Soma and 75 mic.s of Fentanyl. And still working steady and strong.
And work I did, sometimes two or three different jobs, which were not as difficult as you, would think. I was a proficient Cad draftsperson and Electrical designer. I had AutoCAD in my computer and would work until 5am on projects. I designed homes for oil barons, worked on the ERs and ICUs of several well-known hospitals. It was fulfilling and Willie seemed to be content with the way things were, though she was constantly amazed at my proficiency under the influence of so many narcotics. I brought in a lot of money, yet, we were always in some sort of financial mess.
Willie took care of the bills and I trusted her. I will admit, I had this responsibility since my first marriage and welcomed the relief. But I would bring home $5000 in two weeks and by the end of the month, with an additional $2000 or more plus her salary, we were broke.
I Willie brought in friends in need and I did what I could, teaching them the art of CAD, preparing resumes, writing letters and faxing them. I believe that every person is born with talent. I got several people jobs and they are living wonderful lives today because of it. Suzy Coulam, the owner of the Ren Fair’s ex-wife, was still living with us and working for Steinbeck Architects. Another friend John Wright, having bad luck all the way around is working for a Structural Company and with his new found career he found love with an Australian fellow. There were several people who benefitted. Isn’t it wonderful? These people owe me nothing, indebtedness does not make men grateful, but resentful; and if a little charity is not forgotten, it turns into a gnawing worm (Nietzsche). I have found that among its other values, giving unshackles the soul of the giver. It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'try to be a little kinder. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel and if you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.
In 1998 I got a call from my brother Gil (for this purpose) and started a humorlous romp into a dysfunctional psyche. I never heard from him, he and I were not siblings that found the need to be together. Ever. His first wife and I were friends. We were schoolmates and when he met his second wife, I continued my loyalty to his first wife. Especially when, on the day of their divorce, he asked her to come back.
But his second wife was probably the person who saved my life. She came to Wheeling when my ex-husband had been abusing me and packed up my things, holding him at gunpoint and telling him I was leaving. She brought me to Kenosha to stay at my family’s house while they were traveling. The first days were tough, I loved my husband dearly, but the abuse had to end. I met another guy, Steve, in Kenosha and was putting my life back together until my mother and father came back and told Gil’s wife she had no business interfering.
I explained to them that she had saved my life, but they insisted, called my husband to come and get me, reading Gil’s poor wife to filth. But she changed everything because when he showed up to get me, my brother took him aside and told him he would kill him if anything happened to me again. There were sporadic events, but the husband certainly was aware of the potential threat and learned to keep his anger at bay for fear of having his face re-arranged.
This brother was not the kindest and did not curry as much favor as my oldest brother Bob did with my mother.
From the late 70’s until well into the 90’s Gil and his family were not welcome in the family and everyone, EVERYONE would say things that I cannot repeat here. I defended them each and every time, getting the worst of it myself because of what they considered my misguided loyalty. But when someone does what Gil’s wife did, they deserve loyalty. And even if she had not done that I would have defended them. That is my way. I refuse to get caught up in the back biting that can cause painful rifts for decades.
In 1994 I had gone home to attend a school re-union in 1995 and Gil offered to accompany me. It was a wonderful trip until Gil left and they decided to celebrate my birthday. My grandmother, the beloved woman I write of often her, the person who made my life not only livable – but WONDERFUL, was living with my mom and dad and I have a strong feeling it wasn’t very pleasant. She gave me a beautiful ring with several diamonds she had for several years. I had seen it before, yet – during these festivities, my mother claimed the diamonds were suspects and everything broke loose. This is how it went. Everything would be great, and then my mother would do or say something just to get the shit rolling. My mother always felt an unexciting truth may be eclipsed by a thrilling lie.
I left Kenosha in tears and without the ring.
When Gil called me I was elated. My family really has very little to do with me, so when one of them calls I am like a puppy with a potentially pitiless owner. We talked at length about everything and anything. I then told him about the outcome from our last trip to Kenosha and he was both sympathetic and angered. I told him of a letter where my mother bullied me with my older brother, which was a ridiculous threat, but a threat none the less. And Gil honed in on this, bearing down in a consistent fashion about how this was a dangerous situation and that I needed to stop her. He suggested doing this legally.
I laughed, I actually laughed, until I found he was serious. I told him many things, one being that I felt he was the most trustworthy person in the family, which, actually, if I thought this out and was not given to my mother’s constant berating of my oldest brother, I would have foreseen the dangerous way this was heading. I had told my father of my feelings years before and suggested that if anything, Gil should be the executor of their estate. Gil used this highly inflated opinion of himself to wear me down.
I told Gil I felt that just staying away was enough, but no, he said my life was in danger and that even though I was far away, and I had made everyone aware of the potential, that wasn’t going to stop anything from possibly occurring.
He told me where to get a recorder for my phone. Which I did, and really, the only person, at that time, I recorded was him.
Gil had the finesse of a rogue shark. He told me of how I was the only person he had averred to be family. Everyone else was dead. That is what he told people. His family was all dead, all except me. He carried on at length about my sister and her children whom he couldn’t stay in the same room with. Her husband and her and how they were leeching off my mother and that he knew my sister would be a permanent fixture in their home never taking care of herself. He moved on to my oldest brother telling me the most disgusting things about my childhood and what he may (or may not) have done to me. If I were to have listened carefully, I would have heard him being the major factor in these events. But he loved me or so he said. And I loved him. I love all my family. I wanted to be a part of something. I was so tired of these one and two year detachments, where I was ostracized because of my mother’s and eventually, my sister’s accusations. She detested me. No matter what I did or what I do, it always ends up with her angry at me and having the entire family blacklist me.
But when he suggested a legal action, I drew the line.
My father was sick, he had a lung transplant in 1987 and even though it was successful, his health was tenuous at best. I adored my father and up till then, he and I spoke almost daily. I relied on my dad heavily for making business and even family decisions. What Gil was suggesting would call a halt to that.
I expressed my concernss to Gil, but he insisted and even said to hire a lawyer and he will pay. I asked him what would happen when my dad died. It was hard enough when everyone got along. This step would eliminate any kind of a feasible interaction. Gil said he would be there for me no matter what. If my father died, he would bring me to Kenosha and hold on to me, keeping me safe. I was his sister, his only recognized relative. Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit. And I was about to exceed the limit.
These memories keep looping through my brain like some broken record.
I hired a lawyer.